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Competition: Natural History Museum anthropology store

Niall McLaughlin’s Natural History Museum scheme
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The Natural History Museum in London is recruiting an architect for a new £2.5 million anthropology store inside its South Kensington home

The winner of the £280,000 contract will upgrade an existing anthropology collection store room in the basement of the museum’s Brutalist-style Palaeontology Wing.

Planned to complete in 2018, the project will refurbish the archive, and deliver a 191m² suite of compactorised collections cabinetry and a new staff office. A temporary decant facility within the nearby Palaeontology Library will also be required during the works.

According to the brief: ‘This project aims to refurbish the current anthropology collection store in the sub-basement of the Palaeontology Building and to convert a WC into a staff office. In order to carry out the works the collection needs to be temporarily decanted.

‘The area identified to house the collection and provide researcher access is currently used as a library. The existing library shelves need to be replaced with more suitable temporary shelving for the anthropology collection.’

The Natural History Museum first opened in 1881, and was originally designed by civil engineer Francis Fowke who won a contest for the building in 1864. The scheme was later revised by Alfred Waterhouse, who took over following Fowke’s death. Today it contains around 27,000m2 of internal exhibition spaces and two-thirds of its 80-million-specimen collection.

Inspired by Romanesque architecture, the building’s interior and exterior are clad in thousands of terracotta tiles illustrated with relief sculptures of flora and fauna. Avanti was chosen for a research project to ‘define the repair and restoration’ of the Grade I-listed building’s façade in 2015.

The Palaeontology Wing, designed by architects from the Ministry of Public Building and Works, was constructed between 1970 and 1975 and hosts storage areas closed to the public.

In September last year Níall McLaughlin Architects and landscape architect Kim Wilkie won planning for competition-winning proposals for a new civic square and cloister outside the museum (pictured). As part of the project the tower element of the unlisted Palaeontology Wing will be demolished.

In 2009 CF Møller completed the museum’s £78 million Darwin Centre, which contains a 65m-long cocoon for exhibitions and specimen storage.

The latest project will upgrade wall, floor, and ceiling finishes; improve the store room’s environmental performance; install new windows; remove a redundant tank facility and create a new staff office.

The winning team, set to be announced on 22 June, will develop the scheme from RIBA Stage 3 through to completion.

The deadline for applications is noon, 26 April.

How to apply

View the contract notice for more information

Contact details

Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road

Tel: +44 2079425416
Email: y.hanlonrosslee@nhm.ac.uk


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